click to enlarge CREDIT: FELICIA OLIN
Credit: Felicia Olin

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Imagine my surprise when I read in Illinois Times that the Springfield Youth Ballet Company was given a passing mention in your article about local arts and COVID, yet no one from the organization was contacted first ("Performing in a pandemic," March 11). While it was generous for Springfield Ballet Company's artistic director Julie Ratz to include SYBC in her comment, please understand that neither she, nor anyone from SBC, speaks on behalf of SYBC. The groups formed an alliance last year but are independent administratively, artistically and financially.

Had Rachel Otwell contacted either SYBC executive director Taryn Grant or artistic director Caitlin Helton Scherer, she would have learned about the extraordinary efforts made during the last year to keep dancers connected safely in-person and virtually, in order to keep them enthusiastic and passionate about dance.

For instance, Ms. Grant made it possible for her dancers and those from SBC to perform with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra at Landmark Ford during a holiday live-streaming event. For this weekend's livestream of "Beatrix Potter," SYBC, a resident member at the Hoogland Center for the Arts, was forced to rent another studio for rehearsals when the Hoogland administration shut down the center. Working outside the dancers' usual studio space, Ms. Helton Scherer devised a plan to ensure SYBC's in-person rehearsals met state guidelines for COVID, while producing a ballet that reinvigorated young dancers staggered by a year of Zoom classes, social distancing and masks.

As a former journalist, I understand that not everything in our notes makes it into the final story, nor could one interview all possible sources. I believe, however, that good reporting necessitates doing the extra legwork that, in this situation, would have led Ms. Otwell to give SYBC proper credit and attention for all that it does for young dancers in this community.

Shelley Helton



I would offer that the Edgar County Watchdogs are great at what they do. ("Barks and bites: Watchdogs prowl Illinois," March 18). I have always believed that when you upset people you are investigating, you are hitting on the exposure they do not want. Keep up the good work, Kirk and John. A lot of people are behind your work.

Bob Judd



I see the legislature wants $170 million to renovate the Capitol ("This old house: Capital plan for Capitol moves ahead," March 11). Legislators need comfortable, spacious, well-equipped buildings with plenty of committee meeting rooms, offices for staff and other amenities so that they can conduct their business. They do not need $170 million to renovate the cathedral which stands as a monument of their self-importance. God forbid the legislators would not have copper on their $700,000 mahogany doors. At a minimum, at least let some cold and hungry people stay there overnight.

William Panichi

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